Special Seminar – Julian Cooper (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

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1315 Seminar Hall
@ 3:30 pm

Title: “Straining” for New Function in Molecular and Macromolecular Systems

Abstract: In this seminar, I will demonstrate how strain can be an enabling tool to access new capabilities in both small molecule and materials chemistry. First, I will discuss how constraining the substituents on phosphorus renders a Lewis basic donor biphilic: displaying both acceptor and donor character. I leverage this biphilic reactivity of phosphorus to catalyze a cross-coupling reaction between nitroarenes and boronic acids, forming pharmaceutically relevant C–N bonds via a P(III)/P(V)=O redox couple. Next, I discuss how applied strain can address end-of-life management challenges of real-world thermosetting materials. Polydicyclopentadiene (pDCPD) based thermosets made by frontal ring-opening metathesis polymerization (FROMP) can be reprocessed and recycled repeatedly by leveraging both the embedded catalyst used to make this material and compressive strain applied to the material. The subsequent generations of pDCPD display near-identical properties compared to the original material, demonstrating successful circularization of the material lifecycle. When taken together, these works elevate strain as a designed parameter to consider when seeking to achieve new reactivity and functional capabilities.

Bio: Julian Cooper was born in Houston, TX in 1992. He obtained his B.S. in chemistry from Rice University in 2014. Following graduation, Julian pursued advanced studies in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as an NSF graduate fellow, where he completed a Ph.D. in chemistry with Profs. Jeffrey Van Humbeck and Alex Radosevich in late 2019. That same year, Julian joined Jeffrey Moore’s research group at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow. His research leverages chemistry to address challenges in materials science. Outside of work, Julian enjoys reading, photography and playing golf.

Keywords: Main Group Catalysis, Synthetic Methodology, Polymer Science, Sustainability, Stress-Relaxation, Frontal Polymerization

Host: Prof. AJ Boydston